Life & Style

How a residents’ association in Kerala capital set up a library during lockdown

Residents of Rajeev Nagar at the library set up at Melarannoor in Thiruvananthapuram

Residents of Rajeev Nagar at the library set up at Melarannoor in Thiruvananthapuram   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

 

When the lockdown kept many indoors, members of Rajeev Nagar Resident’ Association of Government Quarters at Melarannoor in Thiruvananthapuram put their heads together for a creative avocation. With government offices remaining shut then, most of the residents finally found the time to realise a long-pending dream of theirs to establish a library for the association.

One book at a time, the residents collected, sorted and classified the books to set up a local bibliotheque at the Residents’ Association hall, with the library now boasting over 1,200 titles and counting. “We made the plan for such a library back in 2017 but never got around fully realising it due to busy schedules although a few books had been gathered. The lockdown gave many of us a lot of time on our hands. Also, we felt it was a good way to beat lockdown blues and try and inculcate reading habit, especially among kids residing in our area,” says Asokan Puthuppadi, a resident of Rajeev Nagar and an employee of the State Central Library in the capital city, better known as the Public Library.

Books arranged on shelves in the library set up at Melarannoor in Thiruvananthapuram

Books arranged on shelves in the library set up at Melarannoor in Thiruvananthapuram   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

 

Asokan’s experience came in handy but it was a “group effort” as other residents chipped in with dusting, archiving and even binding volumes that needed a bit of fixing. The modest but growing collection has been generated chiefly from voluntary contributions. “A small portion of the collection was donated by residents of Rajeev Nagar itself. However, the larger share came from donors such as friends, relatives, and well-wishers after learning about our project through word of mouth. We had also put out advertisements requesting for book donations. Most of the books came from sources within the district,” says Asokan, adding that about 600 families come under the residents’ association.

The collection includes English fiction and literature, with notable titles such as Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d'Urbervilles. “Malayalam fiction, with works of stalwarts like MT (Vasudevan Nair), P Kesavadev and so on, form a big chunk of the titles. There are some Mills and Boon novels as well. Some job-seekers who have landed appointments have donated books that are preparation material for competitive exams. Then there are science books, dictionaries and even research theses and dissertations,” explains Asokan.

Asokan Puthuppadi at the library

Asokan Puthuppadi at the library   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

 

Ajayakumar AN, president of the association, says the library remains open on all days but currently functions only in the evening in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. “The timings are from about 6 pm to 8 pm. The facility is manned by our committee members who are free in the evening after work. We take take turns to be the library in-charge depending on who is available,” he says.

Lending period for books is 15 days. Presently, borrowings are free of cost and books are issued to association members only. Due to practical reasons of maintaining a registry, the members plan to levy a nominal membership fee to cover maintenance cost, says Ajayakumar.

Though bibilophiles, youngsters and pensioners, have been availing themselves of the facility, the library is set to be “officially” opened by writer and parliamentarian Shashi Tharoor from Delhi via video-conferencing app Zoom on June 19. “As libraries in the city remained out of bounds during the lockdown, our modest but useful collection has been a succour for avid readers among us,” says Raveendran R, secretary of the association, adding that some of the members took the initiative to go and collect books after donors expressed interest to contribute to the project.

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Printable version | Aug 6, 2020 11:14:53 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/how-a-residents-association-in-kerala-capital-set-up-a-library-during-lockdown/article31851025.ece

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